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Saved by the bell, Bob thought, as the door swung open with a jangle. It wasn’t that he disliked chatting to old Mrs Mayhew, as such, but once she got going she could talk for hours and then he’d never get a thing done.

He glanced up at the CCTV screen to see who his customer was. A young man was wandering through the aisles, hands in pockets, looking around constantly. Sent for something specific, Bob thought. Probably feminine products, by the shifty look on his face. They often looked like that, as if they didn’t want to be seen buying such things.

Mrs Mayhew was still talking about her grandson as the young man came around the stacked beers at the end of the aisle and approached the till. Bob frowned. The lad wasn’t carrying anything, and still had both hands in his jacket pocket.

Probably couldn’t find her brand, he figured, forcing the frown into a smile. Probably just buying fags.

The lad stood impatiently behind Mrs Mayhew for a few moments, shifting from foot to foot. The old dear really wanted to talk, and Bob was about to interrupt her when the young man spoke.

“Open your till,” he said, pulling a gun out of his jacket pocket with one hand and pushing Mrs Mayhew aside with the other. “Give me all your money!”

Bob had never been robbed before. He had always thought that he would fight back, but as he stared at the barrel of a gun he found himself simply unable to move.

Not so for Mrs Mayhew. With a shout of indignation the septagenarian turned and lashed out with her handbag. The gun was knocked from the robber’s hands, and he instinctively cowered under the old lady’s onslaught.

As Bob stared in disbelief, the would-be thief ran from the shop with his elderly customer shouting abuse after him.

“My goodness,” said Mrs Mayhew as she returned to the till, “Youth these days!”

Bob stared at her in silence.

“Well,” she continued, “At least that one knows not to mess with Belle Mayhew!”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: This week Carry On Tuesday, which thankfully is itself carrying on, provides the prompt “Saved by the bell”. )

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